Chemical Engineer Vs Pharmacist

So, you are confused between chemical engineering and pharmacy career fields, right? We are sure this article will help you. Chemical engineers and pharmacists both are responsible for various jobs. Here we have compared multiple factors like duties, responsibilities, salary, education requirements, qualifications, etc., of both these career fields.

Chemical Engineer Employee

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers use scientific and engineering principles to research, develop, and produce chemicals, drugs, fuels, foods, etc. In a nutshell, chemical engineers focus on product development. If you want to get into chemical engineering, it is imperative that you have a background in Mathematics and Physics.

Duties and responsibilities

As a chemical engineer, your primary duty will include producing chemicals. You will be researching, developing, and producing chemicals. Here are some essential duties and responsibilities of chemical engineers:

  • Determine effective arrangement of various operations like heat transfer, mixing, crushing, and drying
  • Prepare safety procedures to be employed by workers
  • Using the computer to compile and analyze data
  • Researching new methods of producing chemicals
  • Gathering estimates of the cost of production
  • Creating safety guidelines

Education requirements & qualifications

Before pursuing chemical engineering as a career, it is essential to have a good idea about education requirements and qualifications. To become a chemical engineer, first of all, you will require a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or chemistry. Completing the degree usually takes about 4 years. Apart from the degree, having some practical experience would provide additional benefits. You can gain practical experience by doing internships and cooperative engineering programs.

Talking about other qualifications, you may need to get a professional engineer (PE) designation through licensure. To obtain the PE licensure, you need to first hold the undergraduate engineering degree from an accredited educational program. Apart from this, you are also required to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering examination.

Skills required

In order to become a chemical engineer, the required key skills are:

  • Problem-solving
  • Math
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking


Salary is the factor that is affected by a number of factors. Depending on your education, qualifications, skills, etc., your salary as a chemical engineer will vary. The average salary of a chemical engineer in the United States is about $108,770 a year.

Pharmacist Employee


Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who dispense medications and review dispensed medications. These are not the only jobs pharmacists perform. They are responsible for many other tasks like managing staff, administrative tasks, etc. In order to become a pharmacist, you need to be good in Biology and Chemistry.

Pharmacists are of different types – retail pharmacist, hospital pharmacist, compounding pharmacist, ambulatory care pharmacist, consulting pharmacist, etc. Depending on your interest and expertise, you need to figure out what pharmacy type you want to get into.

Duties and responsibilities

As a pharmacist, you will be performing the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Prepare medicines after reviewing and interpreting patients’ orders
  • Dispense prescriptions
  • Counsel patients
  • Communicate with prescribers
  • Ensure patients’ safety
  • Work with patients on general health
  • Manage staff
  • Perform administrative tasks

Education requirements & qualifications

First of all, you need to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from a pharmacy program accredited by the Accreditation Council for the Pharmacy Education (ACPE). After getting the degree, you need to work on obtaining the licensure.

Without the licensure, you won’t be considered a registered pharmacist. Pharmacist license requirements vary based on the state. You must pass NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) by the North Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Apart from this, most states also require candidates to pass MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam).

Skills required

Here are the skills required to become a pharmacist:

  • Attention to detail
  • Administering medications
  • Analyzing information
  • Focus on quality
  • Productivity
  • FDA health regulations
  • Communication skills


The salary of pharmacists varies depending on the factors like pharmacy type, experience, skills, education, qualifications, etc. The average salary of a pharmacist in the United States is about $128,090.

pharmacist and chemical engineer

Chemical Engineer OR Pharmacist

We didn’t want you to only take our word for it on this matter so we scoured the internet for actual professional opinions. We went to numerous forums, websites and sub reddits. These are either former or current Chemical Engineers or Pharmacists. Information was curated so nothing has been changed except any spelling or grammar where needed.

Real Professional Opinions

1. Falokis “Become a tech for a bit” – Best advice would to pick up a pharmacy tech job at a local store. You will know really quick if retail is for you. Then, try a hospital tech job. You have plenty of time to do both before you need to really think about it. You could even get a BS in chemical engineering before you decide.

My advice is to relax. You have ample time to figure it out.

2. Project2015 “Focus on both early on” – You should get a B.S. in chemical engineering and take the pharmacy prerequisites. During your college years, you could figure out what those professions are like and then decide then on which to pursue, MS or PharmD.

For high school, just worry about getting to and preparing for college. That means getting the study skills and critical thinking abilities through a rigorous course load. Don’t forget about the extracurriculars for character building and general experience. Take all the core science courses for a solid foundation. Frankly, the exact facts and details from biology don’t mean anything. What matters is if given the information, can you apply it? If not given, can you find it? If taking another biology or science class in general, do you have the strategy to learn the new material?

A good basic read on what pharmacy is like:

3. Lagunatic “Chemical Engineer” – Well I can give you an account of what chemical engineers have to do at my work. I currently work at Abbott in an innovation group so we come up with new concepts for target markets. Some interesting projects I have been a part of are:

-Worked on a new drug delivery method based on a network of cross-linking gels
-Applied aforementioned concept for sealing surgical wounds
-Developed new co-polymers and blends of materials
-Studied drug release rate of new coating techniques and/or new delivery methods
-Studied in-vitro aging and it’s effect on prototype’s polymer backbone and mechanical performance

Some day to day/week to week duties are:

-Planning/conducting experiments to evaluate prototypes
-Brainstorming new ideas/designs/concepts for our group’s vision
-Traveling to conduct testing, help solve an issue, or provide technical support
-Presenting data at meetings
-Communicating with multiple peers, groups, and vendors
-Attending conferences/conventions to stay updated with current products and scientific advancements

Overall, I feel a chemical engineering degree is a versatile degree that can fit into science, engineering, pharmacy, or medicine if you ever decide to do so.

4. Madilyn Bruening “Earn more as Pharmacist” – In the USA a pharmacist will most likely earn a higher salary immediately upon graduation, but a chemical engineer has the potential to make a lot more over the course of their career.

Another thing to consider (in the USA) is the chemical engineer can make a respectable wage with simply a bachelors degree whereas a PharmD is required to become a pharmacist. That means more years of school and a LOT more paid in tuition and accrument of student loan debt. Not having a crippling student loan payment each month can make a huge difference in quality of life and probably offset the initial wage difference (total debt and payment will vary per student).

Being a pharmacist does give you more flexibilty about where you can find a job and where you choose to live. You can be a pharmacist in any city or state, not true about chemical engineers.

If your want to work for a pharmaceutical company doing research it would be best to get a doctorate in biochemistry or pharmacology.

5. Martin “There are some big differences” – A pharmacist is a person qualified to dispense medicines to the public and in hospitals. He or she has to know a lot about the names of substances, conditions for which they are appropriate, contra-indications and dangerous combinations. They are also the last line of defense against the mistakes of doctors in prescribing.

Pharmacy graduates learn about how medicines work, something of how they are made and their history, and other skills relevant to dispensing and running a business. They may work in industry as salespeople, or in the development of new medical treatments, but not usually on the development of processes.

By contrast, chemical engineers know little of medicine, but a lot about processes, including both chemical and physical (and some biological). Some will have done specialist modules on pharmaceutical engineering or will have special knowledge of e.g. particle technology which is of huge importance.

They will typically work on the development of processes – both the production process and new methods of delivery of existing or new drugs.

Both pharmacy and chemical engineering graduates may work together on what is known as product development, to get something which is safe for people and can be produced in a reliable way so that each dose is the same and has the same effect.

Final Summary

Chemical engineering and pharmacy are amazing career fields. Chemical engineers spend their time focusing on product development. They go through research, development, and production of foods, chemicals, fuels, etc. Apart from this, some of their other duties include ensuring safety guidelines, gathering estimates of the cost of production, and researching new methods of production.

Talking about a pharmacist, the primary job is to dispense the prescription. Pharmacists need to ensure the safety of patients. To do that, they need to review prescriptions, communicate with prescribers, and counsel patients. Depending on the pharmacy type you work in, your duties and responsibilities can vary. When it comes to salary, on average, pharmacists make more money than chemical engineers.

When choosing between pharmacist and chemical engineer, there are various factors you need to take into account. You need to go with the career field you are interested in, and you are quite good with it. If you are good at Mathematics and Physics, Chemical engineering is for you. However, if you are good at Biology and Chemistry, then you should consider Pharmacy as a career option.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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